Pondering Ponds in Portland: Great Maintenance and Algae Fixes


Ponds can be a beautiful addition to your landscape. With their tranquil sounds and beautiful fish they can really enhance your outdoor living environment.


What to do when suddenly your once peaceful retreat turns into a quagmire of pea soup?




Ponds are a complex eco system and as such there is no one answer to fix the problem. Anyone who tells you there is, “just add this miracle chemical” is trying to sell you something. Algae is always going to be present in a healthy pond, however, not to the degree that it prevents you from seeing the fish you’ve so carefully cultivated. 

Algae’s need two things to thrive, nutrient, (uneaten fish food and fish waste) and sunlight. Take away either of those things and your pond should clear up. It’s never going to be absolutely pristine with no algae growth unless you eliminate all biological living creatures and regularly add bleach to the system. But what fun is that? Isn’t the whole purpose behind a pond to enjoy the living ecosystem in your yard? The problem of algae in the pond is a multi faceted ‘fix’. The first step is to cover a large percentage of the open pond area with shade. This can be done by planting larger trees and shrubs around the periphery of the pond as well as adding water plants to the pond itself. Shelves can be added along the ponds edges as well as submersed milk crates or cinder blocks make great platforms for plants. The edition of bottom dwelling plants weighted with a rock, such as elodea and anacharis aid in the oxygenation of the pond as well as becoming a good natural food source for the fish. Floating plants such as water hyacinths, water lettuces and lilies can be had at most pond store for a reasonable price. These plants are also beautiful, adding texture and color to help soften the rocky pond edges, creating a more natural look.


Not only do these plants shade the pond from the sun and help with oxygenation, they also take up the excess nutrient in your water to feed themselves thus making them a double edged helper in the fight against the dreaded pea soup algae!


If the algae is persistent and occurs later in the year it is usually a symptom of an imbalance in the pond. This is where water test kits become a valuable tool to help you decide what the next steps should be to clear the pond. 

Water temperature should be assessed, as well as CO2 levels, phosphate, ammonia and nitrate levels should also be considered. If any or all of these are higher than optimal it’s probably a contributor to your algae issue. The addition of a biological filter and leaf catching filter in addition to retarding your feeding schedule will all help to reduce the rate at which these levels climb bringing your pond back into balance. Be advised that nothing is going to be an over-night quick fix. As with all things in nature these things take time.

In addition to adding these algae fighting methods, a good water change of the pond, of about of the water should be implemented. Removing the lion’s share of the visible algae by hand, using a suction device, a screened pole and yes even your hands to get out as much algae as possible. When refilling the pond make sure that you refill it slowly and add a judicious amount of your favorite de-chlorinator. Remember to clean the screens and filter material in your leaf catcher to remove large debris on a regular basis. 


When flushing the biological filter, which I recommend not be done more than twice a year, the addition of pre-bottled biological conditioner should be added to boost the beneficial bacterial residing in the bio-filter. 

If the CO2 levels are high in your pond you may want to consider an aeration device in addition to your waterfall to help increase oxygen levels and surface agitation. Algae thrives in a poorly oxygenated water.

Though I don’t advocate the use of chemical ‘fixes’ in the pond, some can beneficial if used in the correct manner and judiciously. Many people fall prey to the claims on the bottle of a magical overnight cure which is both not realistic and can cause both over use and over dependence on chemicals. That being said, the use of barley extracts, barley bales or barley mattes can be helpful. When broken down the barley bales emit a naturally occurring chemical that inhibits that growth of hair and pea soup algae’s, further it helps to ‘clump’ the algae for later removal. There are also chemicals that can be added prior to the water change to help clump the algae together for easy removal. The best way to use these is sparingly, following the directions and if used at least 24 hours prior to the water change.

Lastly, though I’m not in love with the idea, UV lights can be added to most commercially sold biological and leaf catching skimmer filters. These lights while expensive can help clear an algae bloom fairly quickly, but should be used only in well established ponds as the lights don’t discriminate between killing beneficial, healthy bacteria, and harmful algae cause bacteria. 

They kill them all with great efficiency, causing the pond to be out of balance once again. Be mindful that a large algae die off can cause just as many issues as the algae itself! 

Doing things slowly, with caution and in the most natural way will ensure a healthy relatively algae free pond for you and your family to enjoy for years to come!




Portland Water in the Garden!

Portland! Everyone can have water in the garden! No need for a high maintenance pond or waterfall.

Just look at some of the many options available!

These are inexpensive, easy to maintain and create that wonderful soothing trickling sound of water in the landscape!


This beautiful bubble rock can be customized for your home. They come in many colors shapes and sizes, are low maintenance and add that beautiful touch of water your landscape!


This eternity vase can be installed quickly and easily, comes in a huge variety of colors shapes and sizes as well as being economical…


Even a simple bird bath fountain can add that touch of trickling water to your yard. Both plant life as well as small fish to your landscape.


A traditional fountain can house ​both plant life as well as small fish to your landscape.

These are but a few of the thousands of idea that are inexpensive, easy and to install and low maintenance that can add water to the landscape enhacing your enjoyment of your out door living space.

Call Pat Hardisty at Exstream Landscaping to install your TODAY!

Hey Portland, Don’t chase sprinklers this summer!


It’s a time honored tradition to hook up the hose, put out the sprinkler and vow to move it after a few minutes to a new location, chasing it all over your yard, only to forget ending up with one soggy patch a dead lawn and a BIG water bill.

Having a sprinkler system installed saves you both time and money as well as your lawn! 

A well placed soprinkler system will have sprinklers of varying heights and types to water lawn areas, shrubs, tress and flowers for their specific water needs. Keeping your yard green, plants happy and your water bill down. No more chasing the sprinkle all over your lawn and unwinding the hose only to find you’ve got a kink somewhere!


Your sprinklers will come on automatically watering everything to perfection without you lifting a finger! Once programmed the system will come on, often before you’re drinking your first cup of coffee!

The end result is a beautiful emerald green lawn, healthy plants, money savings and the biggest savings of all…TIME! Time that you now have back to enjoy playing with your kids, enjoying your beautiful lawn or BBQing on your patio or deck.! Don’t have a patio or deck? We can help with that too!

Give Exstream Landscaping a call at 503-654-1953


The night time is the RIGHT time to light your landscape, Portland!


Landscape lighting is an absolute essential especially here in the Pacific NW where daylight hours are short. Lighting your landscape can extent the usable outdoor living space while also providing safety and stunning atmosphere.

Having a BBQ on the deck or a get together on the patio requires good visibility in the evening or night time hours. The installation of nigh lighting can extend the amount of time you can enjoy your space safely. By highlighting specific areas such as, steps, patio areas, entryways and walkways, shadows and dark spots are eliminated and the safety factor of your landscape goes up as does your enjoyment. Walkway lighting can help to define the curve of a sidewalk or highlight an abrupt corner or transition to steps or driveways. Additionally lighting around the perimeter of the landscape can help to define the area and create transitions from one area 

Apart from safety and basic illumination, night lighting can also create a completely new and exciting atmosphere. By accenting areas of the landscape, patterns and contrasts can emerge showing your yard in a whole new light. Specialty lighting can create color accents, glows and playful shadows . Fountains, waterfalls and ponds take on a whole new look, while flowers and plants may put on a whole new show revealing different hues and shapes.


There are innumerable ways in which lighting can accent a feature and make your landscape more dynamic and dramatic. Moonglow lights create a feeling of a moonlit landscape. Directional spot lighting can emphasize a feature and bring dark and light contrasts as well as shadow patterns to life. Rain, fog and snow are much more dramatic at night when illuminated.


Though many solar lights are readily available at home improvement and even grocery stores, they don’t possess the lumens needed to create a truly remarkable nightscape. They can be good to add as inexpensive supplemental lighting to illuminate a flower basket or small potted plant. However, to create a truly unique nightscape experience the installation of a professional low voltage lighting system is an absolute necessity. 

LED lighting is the latest innovation in landscape lighting and boasts both long life with no replacement of bulbs but also a staggering array of different types of lighting fixtures, creating new and inventive lighting effects. In addition to standard path, step and security lighting LEDs can offer striking up lighting, shadowing, silhouetting and moonlighting techniques with ease as well as coming in a variety of light colors ranging from daylight (6700k), to blue, green, purple, red orange and yellow. Underwater lighting for pools, ponds, streams and waterfalls are also available. The other really fantastic thing about LED lighting is that it costs on average a lot less to run than traditional low voltage lighting!

Another great thing about landscape lighting is the lights themselves come in so many varieties they can be seen as beautiful additions to the landscape even in the daylight!



Landscape lighting is at its most effective with used in subtle limited ways. Used sparingly and in specific areas to highlight areas with specific techniques your nightscape will come alive in a while new way!

Call Exstream Landscaping to bring your night landscape to life at 503-654-1953

Paving a New Patio with Pavers in Portland, OR — made easy

Landscaping is one of the most powerful tools homeowners have to increase the livability of their homes as well as the appeal to possible buyers. Let’s face it we’re in a HOT sellers market in our area right now. Looking to increase your homes market appeal? Patios are a particularly valuable addition because they extend the living space into the landscape area additionally more buyers are attracted to a home with additional perceived living space.

A patio can be placed in almost any corner of your current yard area. Ease of access is the most important choice. Once an area is chosen is must be cleared of all vegetation and leveled sometimes with either the addition or excavation of soil. The next phase is dependent on the materials you choose. A simple paver patio uses small gravel, typically quarter minus, compacted into the area where the pavers will be placed, followed by the addition of sand. The pavers or stones can then be set onto the area in the pattern desired and additional sand place in the crevices. The patio shown below was created with 24 inch square architectural slabs.





As can be seen from the photos, the area was leveled and prepped with gravel and sand and the slabs were then applied. A Concrete cutter was used to create rounded curves and to fit the slabs into places that were smaller than the 24’X24”  slab required.

Thinking about building a new patio? Give us a call…we can help!!!  (503) 654-19534-1953